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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2005 Dicembre;45(4):512-7

lingua: Inglese

Differences in skinfold thicknesses and fat distribution among top-class runners

Legaz Arrese A. 1, González Badillo J. J. 2, Serrano Ostáriz E. 1

1 Faculty of Sciences of Physical Activity and Sport University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
2 Olympic Studies Center Spanish Olympic Committee Madrid, Spain


Aim. The purpose of this research was to determine skinfolds values in male and female top-class runners who competed in different distances in order to identify the association of sex and event with fatness and distribution of subcutaneous fat.
Methods. Eight skinfolds were measured on male (n=130) and female (n=56) top-class runners. Sum of 6 skinfolds and extremity/trunk fat ratio was calculated. Runners were distributed into groups according to the event in which they obtained their best performance.
Results. The skinfolds values found in our athletes were very low. Female runners obtained higher values in extremity skinfolds than male runners; the differences in chest, biceps and abdominal skinfolds are only significant in short duration events; no differences were found in suprailiac and subscapular skinfolds. In both sexes, all skinfolds showed significantly lower values among marathon runners; no differences were found in skinfolds values among runners competing in distances ranging from 100 m to 10 000 m. Extremity/trunk fat ratio was not related to event.
Conclusion. The lower skinfold values found in all groups of runners may be due to a high performance; this analysis shows that a slight excess of fat is not beneficial in order to obtain a high performance in any distance. Fatness is only associated to marathon events, probably due to the fact that these runners are engaged in higher training volume and that only in this event fat metabolism prevails in training and competition. Distribution of subcutaneous fat may be more dependent on biological or environmental factors unrelated to type of training.

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